Richmond County denies application for Sharps Session music festival

Watchful Eye

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* First-hand reporting

At their monthly meeting, Richmond County supervisors unanimously shot down an application for a three-day music and camping event that was set to held in June in Sharps.

In the application for the event, called Sharps Session 22.0, Maggie Dooling stated that up to 500 people were expected to attend, and they would have the option to camp onsite at the Sharps Road property.

She also outlined plans for safety and security to be handled privately. In fact, Dooling didn’t want the county’s public safety personnel on the property, and if they needed to access the property during the event, she wanted them to wait at the gate until she could personally escort them inside.

This part of Dooling’s plan didn’t settle well with Richmond County supervisors or the heads of the county’s public safety.

“I don’t like the fact that they want us to wait. I don’t like the fact that they want to escort us in. A medical emergency is just that. Are they willing to take the legal ramifications of someone dying because they hindered care?” Richmond County EMS chief Mitch Paulette said when addressing the board on the issue.

“My officers are not going to be waiting at a gate,” Richmond County Sheriff Stephan Smith told the board of supervisors. “My concern is what are they doing inside there that they don’t want to have officers in the area or a rescue squad?”

The sheriff told the board of supervisors that even if Dooling hired private contractors to handle security at the event, his department would still need to have extra staff on duty. And since it was slated to run from Friday, June 24 to Sunday, June 26, it would be “devastating” for the department’s overtime budget.

Also dooming the application was the part of the plan that involved camping. Richmond County administrator R. Morgan Quicke explained to the board of supervisors that the county’s zoning ordinance simply doesn’t allow commercial camping where the event was proposed.

The only instance when such a venture would be allowed would be with a special exception permit on a parcel zoned A-1. But the location Dooling proposed didn’t have that zoning designation.

Supervisor Robert Pemberton said what Dooling presented to them didn’t seem like a well thought-out plan. Paulette agreed the event was poorly planned, and he said it should have had the input of the county’s public safety personnel, like himself and Sheriff Smith.

Supervisor Richard Thomas was concerned about the fact that Dooling was reportedly already selling tickets for the event. “If they are taking ticket sales already, and we let that go another month…that’s not a good reflection on Richmond County,” he told the other supervisors, suggesting that they needed to swiftly make a decision and have it on record.

Although all five members of the board voted against the application, Dooling can rework her plan and reapply.

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